Updated: Aug 4
It was an early morning start for the 5 crew (COVID Compliant) of Snow Leopard. The standard dash down the M3. Well not quite so standard, as the Chef had locked himself out. Some quick calls and running around to get some more car keys before picking up the skipper, slightly later than arranged.
Fortunately other crew members were on hand early as the Furler sock managed to snag on the top of the mast. With thanks to #MojoRisin's crew, it was released when they went up the mast, just as the skipper arrived. Thank you!
Well hopefully now, this was going to be a suitable first outing this season for Andrew and first on Snow Leopard joining his wife onboard. This was also Veronika's first RTI.
The weather reports looked favourable building through the day with 10-20 knots. The predicted South Westerly meant a beat up to the Needles and no doubt a beat home. And so it proved to be, but with a twist!
Choosing safety (reef in) and fun as a priority over speed, we opted for the outer / mid line on The Royal Yacht Squadron start. Thus giving us a starboard tack toward the island. The first fleet were off, and then ten minute delay for IRC2 as a large container ship came in. We went over the line at approximately 09:50.
Hard graft by the crew and a heavier than expected wind (15+), they ground it out up the Western Solent, Island side to the Needles. Eventually Zoran and Veronica working the pit in harmony, for their first race of the season.
And with a nice clearing distance of the wreck at the Needles, we set a straight line reach for St Catharine's Point; the approximate the most southerly point on the island.
The crew now relaxed as we grabbed lunch and reached down toward the lighthouse and halfway point. We then saw 25 knots on the mast, so lifejackets on. The wind began to strengthen as we passed the point, and with preparations done, we went for the spinnaker.
This proved to be extremely hard work, with the sea chop and gusts upto 27 knots, the A4 was proving a handful and pulling us off the coastal course we had planned. Opposite Ventnor it was clear we were starting to loose time and ground, and the chute had to go. Safely away with some good 'squirrelling' from Veronika, off we set to rectify the loss.
We began to claw back some time with a ‘cat and mouse’ battle with a first 40. Some good gibes and one rather unplanned jibe, left us back on track and Chris with a sore head.
#Jubblesail appeared, looking very good with her yellow spinnaker flying full and high. Then for some reason she seemed to head off toward France, whilst we made a neat turn round Bembridge Ledge Bouy a mark of the course, we headed toward home with a stiff breeze. It’s far to say we should maybe have reefed again, but nevertheless we put in some fine speeds (9 knots) moving off the reach round Ryde Sands and onto a rather over powered beat toward Cowes.
And then there is the odd twist. With the wind shifting slightly and plenty of pinching to keep her under control we made the finish line in one tack from Bembridge Ledge. Not done that before!
7 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds. A fun day of sailing, nearly crewed at last, and jolly well done to the crew.
With the sun fading and a good breeze we headed straight back to base at #theroyalsouthernyachtclub. A quick pit stop to dry the edge of the spinnaker, and wet the whistle, job done? Well nearly. Navigation lesson two. Yep the Chef took a wrong turn and we traversed the New Forest on the way back to London. Note to self, never relax till you are tucked up in bed!
And finally the below from #RORC
"Thanks for competing with Snow Leopard in the ‘Race the Wight’. We are pleased to say that we raised over £5000 for the Scaramouche Sailing Trust & the NHS Trusts, so again thank you for taking part."